The University of Mississippi’s local section of the American Chemical Society has been awarded the 2015 ChemLuminary Award for its Common Reading Experience program.
The award, for “Best Activity or Program in a Local Section Stimulating Membership Involvement,” honors the Ole Miss section’s dedication to member development and outreach through book club activities. More than 60 people participated in the program that allowed members to meet and discuss the scientific, historic and social aspects of the books distributed to the club.
The books “Warmth Disperses, and Time Passes,” “The Alchemy of Air” and “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” consistently drew in at least 30 participants in the discussions, including many students and young faculty members.
Susan Pedigo and Nathan Hammer, faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, organized the program. The feedback from members has been extremely positive, and many members want to continue the program in coming years, said Jason Ritchie, councilor of the Ole Miss Local Section and UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
“It worked out very well,” Ritchie said. “Rather than coming to local section meetings and listening to guest lectures, members participated in a common reading experience and shared their thoughts and what they learned with each other. We learned that members really enjoyed this new social meeting model and were excited about continuing it.”
Ole Miss Local Section Chair Jared Delcamp, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, became involved in the local section during these book club activities.
“I found the book club program to be exceptionally useful in meeting ACS members I had previously had few interactions with,” Delcamp said. “Providing a central discussion focus through the provided books made approaching members I had not interacted with exceptionally simple.
“Through this program, I developed friendships across several Ole Miss departments while reading some interesting books.”
Through partnerships with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Ole Miss Local Section of the ACS advertised the activity through flyers, class announcements and emails to all graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in chemistry, as well as to area chemistry professors and scientists.